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By T.J. Wilham
Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE - They were your neighbors, living a middle-class life with regular jobs.
Police say it was all a ruse.
Using SWAT teams, K-9 units and masked undercover agents, more than 100 law enforcement officers raided upscale homes and businesses and even dug up a grave early Wednesday as part of a sting operation against what they say was a major methamphetamine ring. Seven were arrested during the morning raids.
Authorities say the group was distributing more than $200,000 worth of the drug each week.
Homes were raided throughout the metro area, including Ventana Ranch and near Ladera Golf Course on the West Side, the Northeast Heights, Rio Rancho and Los Lunas.
Most of the suspects had jobs at two auto detailing businesses - Amazing Details & Audio in Rio Rancho and Tortuga's Car Wash & Detail Shop in Albuquerque, police said.
And the suspects didn't appear to be traditional drug dealers.
"From all outward appearances, they were not part of the typical stereotype the average citizen would draw on a drug dealer," FBI Supervisory Special Agent Darrin Jones said. "They were making enough at dealing drugs to live in reasonably nice neighborhoods and give off a different appearance."
Those arrested and now facing federal drug charges include the alleged ringleader, Jaime Zavolan; Marcus Chavez, 29; Brian Disher, 40; Felipe Diaz, 21; James Griego, 32; Adam Anderson, 30; and Edgar Zamorah Aispuro.
Police say more arrests are pending.
FBI agents and investigators from the multi-agency Region 1 Narcotics task force conducted several undercover buys, wiretaps and surveillance operations leading up to the raids.
The raids were the result of an 18-month-long undercover investigation into how meth was being distributed in metropolitan Albuquerque. Authorities said the drugs were imported from Mexico.
"The destructive effect from the poison these guys were peddling is extensive," said Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, who was present during one of the raids. "I hope today is the first day of many years behind bars for all of them."
Police raided 12 locations almost simultaneously Wednesday morning. Authorities spent weeks working out the details of how they were going to execute search warrants in a way that would prevent the suspects from destroying drugs and alerting others in the ring.
Police divided into teams to raid the businesses and homes. They drove in convoys of armed vehicles, dark-colored sport utility vehicles and marked cars.
Police also searched a small cemetery in Bernalillo near Interstate 25 and N.M. 550, digging into a grave they say was used to hide drugs, weapons or cash. Police said late Wednesday that they had not found anything in the grave.
The raids turned up drugs, weapons, cash and several vehicles equipped with hidden compartments police say were used to hide drugs.

Wire Service
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